A Brief History of the Automotive Assembly Plant

In preparation for the ITTS session on the automotive industry, Tom Bartkiewicz, who will be the session moderator, developed the following video show on the brief history of the auto assembly plant.  (The link here will open up pdf file.  The file size is 47 megs and will contain 5 five pages – two of which have embedded videos.)

The First Panel – Many people incorrectly assume that Henry Ford invented the car.  Rather, he developed the moving assembly line on which he produced the Model T.

The Second Panel –  Here is a picture of Ford’s line of cars in 1919.  The list of cars has greatly improved in ninety years, but the production process remains relatively unchanged at its core.  Steel, glass, rubber – products are transported and assembled to develop a finished vehicle.

The Third Panel –  The video shows the Highland Park factory – “The Birthplace of Henry Ford’s Assembly Line”.  The basic concept of assembling a car as it moves through the plant remains unchanged today.  Notice the legion of workers working to assemble the car.

The Fourth Panel –  The River Rouge Plant – Henry Ford’s ultimate manufacturing facility, producing a car from raw materials to motorcar in 28 hours.  Ford owned the iron ore mines, the iron ore vessels, glass works, steel mill, etc., all the components were made on site and were fed to the final assembly area.  After World War II, Eiji Toyoda, the founder of Toyota, came to the U.S. specifically to see The Rouge.  He based Toyota City on the River Rouge Plant.

The Fifth Panel – The State the Art – The Volkswagen Assembly Plant in Dresden, the car as an immaculate conception.

The last video showcases a state of the art final assembly plant – a far cry from the hectic pace of the 1919 plant.  With a dedicated transportation system, the plant is an integration of museum showpiece and working factory.  But all the other parts are assembled elsewhere, as reliable transportation now replaces the geographic proximity that was contained in the River Rouge facility.

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